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Ablative of agent vs per + accusative

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Ablative of agent vs per + accusative

Postby Quis ut Deus » Sun Mar 21, 2010 8:10 pm

Salvete amici!

Well, I took you all up on your suggestion and I've started reading Eutropius.

Very, very good suggestion. I'm enjoying this without looking for a dictionary every other word.

I have a question. I came across this sentence:

Tricesimo octavo imperii ano per Anci filios occissus est...

My question is, could we equally use the Ablative of Agent here? Are both concepts interchangeable?

Gratias vobis ago et valete!
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Re: Ablative of agent vs per + accusative

Postby thesaurus » Mon Mar 22, 2010 1:21 am

I believe the ablative of agent would also work there. Lewis & Short says it is used "To indicate the agent, instrument, or means, through, by, by means of."
Ut credo, ablativus actoris etiam illic idoneus esse potest. Lewis Shortque dicunt id usui esse "ut indicemus actorem, instrumentum vel materiem, per, ab, cuius causa"

I don't know the degree to which they are interchangeable, but their meanings seem to overlap quite a bit. Lewis & Short provide this illustrative example of the difference:
Nescio an alter pro altero poni possit, sed paene idem adsignificant. Lewis Shortque exemplum clarum huius differentiae dant:
Cicero, Rosc. Am. 29, 80 wrote:quid ais? vulgo occidebantur? Per quos? et a quibus? by whom? and by whose command?


At least here, "per" seems to imply a more direct cause than "a + ablative."
Saltim hoc exemplo, videtur "per" causam ipsam magis quam "a + ablativus" indicare.

Generally, the ablative construction is a much more frequent way to express cause.
Plerumque, ablativus causam saepissime demonstrat.
Horae quidem cedunt et dies et menses et anni, nec praeteritum tempus umquam revertitur nec quid sequatur sciri potest. Quod cuique temporis ad vivendum datur, eo debet esse contentus. --Cicero, De Senectute
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Re: Ablative of agent vs per + accusative

Postby cb » Mon Mar 22, 2010 1:09 pm

hi, for the general distinction between A(B) + abl.and PER + acc., see crombie's gymnasium, p14:

http://books.google.fr/books?id=U2sZAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA14

cheers, chad :)
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Re: Ablative of agent vs per + accusative

Postby Quis ut Deus » Mon Mar 22, 2010 1:34 pm

Salvete Chad et Thesaure!

So, based on the source Chad has presented, the reason the author uses "per" is because the victim was killed not by Ancus himself, but by his sons (subordinates). Had he been killed by Ancus, then "ab" would have been used.

Let me know if I'm following this.

Gratias!
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Re: Ablative of agent vs per + accusative

Postby adrianus » Mon Mar 22, 2010 2:14 pm

The reality is he's not killed by Ancus's sons' own hands but by two very tough shepherds the sons picked for the dastardly deed, using an axe. ("...through the sons he was killed") Livius, Ab Urbe Conditâ, liber primus, capitulum quadraginta.
Reverâ, non rectà ab Anci filiis sed ab ferocissimis pastoribus ad facinus delectis per securim* occisus est.

*I imagine this nuanced difference. I wonder is it justified.
Hoc discrimen subtile imaginor. An sit validum me rogo.

Ab pastore securi occisus est = he was killed with an axe by a shepherd.
Ab pastore per securim occisus est = he was killed by a shepherd using an axe.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: Ablative of agent vs per + accusative

Postby Quis ut Deus » Mon Mar 22, 2010 4:07 pm

Wow, Livy's history sounds like it has some juicy details!

Can't wait till I get to that point.

Thanks for the clarification, Adrianus!
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Re: Ablative of agent vs per + accusative

Postby adrianus » Mon Mar 22, 2010 4:20 pm

I imagine this nuanced difference. I wonder is it justified.
Hoc discrimen subtile imaginor. An sit validum me rogo.

Ab pastore securi occisus est = he was killed with an axe by a shepherd.
Ab pastore per securim occisus est = he was killed by a shepherd using an axe.

Thinking about it more, probably the second one isn't good and it might be better this other way (if I want "per"):
Id plùs reputavi et nunc secundum habeo mendosum, quod aliter sic melius sit, si "per" retineatur:
Ab pastore per modum securis occisus est = he was killed by a shepherd using an axe.
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Re: Ablative of agent vs per + accusative

Postby ptolemyauletes » Tue Mar 23, 2010 9:27 am

The difference between per and ab is certainly tricky, and I have to admit the example you have chosen from this passage goes against the general rules for per that I have formed in my mind. I will explore further.

I had always taken it that ab was a simple agent denoting who actually did the deed.
Caesar a coniuratis occisus est.

Opposed to this per indicates the direct agent of an action that was brought about or commissioned by someone else orginally.
Here are some examples to indicate what I mean.
'per servum nuntium misit'. Admittedly an active sentence, but it gets the idea that the slaves are the tools used by another to accomplish something.

Caesar certior factus est per exploratores.
Here is a passive sentence showing that although it was the spies who informed Caesar, he commisioned them to do the task.

Does that accord with what other people know of per?

Now, in the sentence from your passage, it seems to disprove my little airtight rule, as it was the sons themselves who commissioned the task, and it was in fact committed by others. Perhaps my rule needs to be rethought?
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Re: Ablative of agent vs per + accusative

Postby adrianus » Tue Mar 23, 2010 12:34 pm

ptolemyauletes wrote:Does that accord with what other people know of per?

I think of it a little differently from you, ptolemyauletes.
Praepositionem per enim quàm tu, ptolemyauletes, aliquantulùm secùs considero.

I think the difference is one of scope. Per means more than the instrumental ablative "by [means of]". Per means "by means of" or "through" PLUS notions suggesting authority or responsibility for the action or idea ("in accordance with", "as determined by", "due to" "as far as ____ is concerned") or alternatively, I think, emphasizing the very instrumentality itself (the "through" aspect).

Scopi est differentia inter "per" et instrumentalem casûs ablativi sensum. Plura significat "per", sive ut auctoritati, sive ut causae, sive ut illi processui actionis ipsi.

Heri versperi hoc legi // Last night I read this in Kirchner, Scriptura Gothica Libraria (1966), p.80:
"Liber scriptus est per sororem Magdalenam Topperlin in monasterio ordinis praedicatorem in Medingen".

Maybe she wrote it herself ("due to her"); maybe she had the book be written.
Fortsàn ipsa scripsit; forsàn ea librum scribi fecit.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: Ablative of agent vs per + accusative

Postby Tertius Robertus » Tue Mar 23, 2010 6:19 pm

Occisus est ab Anci filiis, cum regnasset annis XXXVIII.


Livy's periocha I B

I too was taught that "a" was for authorship and "per" for means.

Livy has the same sentence with "Ab" in his periocha, which, considering what is in his ab urbe condita, agrees with this "rule".

A mistake perharps? other sources he had?
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Re: Ablative of agent vs per + accusative

Postby Imber Ranae » Thu Mar 25, 2010 9:17 am

Tertius Robertus wrote:
Occisus est ab Anci filiis, cum regnasset annis XXXVIII.


Livy's periocha I B

I too was taught that "a" was for authorship and "per" for means.

Livy has the same sentence with "Ab" in his periocha, which, considering what is in his ab urbe condita, agrees with this "rule".

A mistake perharps? other sources he had?


A note in this book says that this particular usage of per is post-classical. I don't know how authoritatively it should be taken, but I'd be interested to see if anyone can find any equivalent classical examples to disprove it.
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Re: Ablative of agent vs per + accusative

Postby adrianus » Thu Mar 25, 2010 3:06 pm

Imber Ranae wrote:...I'd be interested to see if anyone can find any equivalent classical examples to disprove it.

L&S, http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0059%3Aentry%3Dper1, wrote:B. To indicate the agent, instrument, or means, through, by, by means of: “statuerunt injurias per vos ulcisci,” Cic. Verr. 2, 2, 3, § 9: “detrimenta publicis rebus per homines eloquentissimos importata,” id. de Or. 1, 9, 38: “quid ais? vulgo occidebantur? Per quos? et a quibus?” by whom? and by whose command? id. Rosc. Am. 29, 80: “quae domi gerenda sunt, ea per Caeciliam transiguntur,” id. ib. 51, 149: “quod nefarium stuprum non per illum factum est,” id. Cat. 2, 4, 7.—Placed after its case: “Exerce vocem, quam per vivis et colis,” Plaut. Poen. prol. 13.—Esp.: per fidem decipere, fallere, etc. (= datā fide): per fidem deceptus sum, through confidence, i. e. in my host who betrayed me, Plaut. Most. 2, 2, 69; Cic. Inv. 1, 39, 71; Caes. B. G. 1, 46, 3.—So, per se, per te, through himself, by himself, of himself, etc.: “homo per se cognitus, sine ullā commendatione majorum,” Cic. Brut. 25, 96: “per me tibi obstiti, = solus,” by myself, id. Cat. 1, 5, 11: “satis per te tibi consulis,” Hor. Ep. 1, 17, 1: “per se solus,” Liv. 1, 49.—With ipse: “nihil ipsos per se sine P. Sullā facere potuisse,” Cic. Sull. 24, 67: “ipsum per se, suā vi, sua naturā, sua sponte laudabile,” id. Fin. 2, 15, 50.—To form an adverb. expression, in, by, through, etc.: “non dubitavi id a te per litteras petere,” by letter, Cic. Fam. 2, 6, 2: “per summum dedecus vitam amittere,” in the most infamous manner, most infamously, id. Rosc. Am. 11, 30: “per iram facere aliquid,” in anger, id. Tusc. 4, 37, 79: “per commodum,” Liv. 30, 29, 3 (cf. II. A. supra): “per commodum rei publicae,” id. 10, 25, 17; 22, 57, 1; 31, 11, 2: “per ludum et jocum,” sporting and jesting, in sport and jest, Cic. Verr. 2, 1, 60, § 155; cf. id. ib. 2, 5, 70, § “181: per vim,” forcibly, Sall. J. 23, 1: “per dolum,” id. ib. 11, 8: “per otium,” at leisure, Liv. 4, 58, 12: “ceteris copiis per otium trajectis,” id. 21, 28, 4: “cibo per otium capto,” id. 21, 55, 1: “per tumultum = tumultuose,” id. 44, 45, 14. —
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Re: Ablative of agent vs per + accusative

Postby Imber Ranae » Thu Mar 25, 2010 9:48 pm

adrianus wrote:
L&S, http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0059%3Aentry%3Dper1, wrote:B. To indicate the agent, instrument, or means, through, by, by means of: “statuerunt injurias per vos ulcisci,” Cic. Verr. 2, 2, 3, § 9: “detrimenta publicis rebus per homines eloquentissimos importata,” id. de Or. 1, 9, 38: “quid ais? vulgo occidebantur? Per quos? et a quibus?” by whom? and by whose command? id. Rosc. Am. 29, 80: “quae domi gerenda sunt, ea per Caeciliam transiguntur,” id. ib. 51, 149: “quod nefarium stuprum non per illum factum est,” id. Cat. 2, 4, 7.—Placed after its case: “Exerce vocem, quam per vivis et colis,” Plaut. Poen. prol. 13.—Esp.: per fidem decipere, fallere, etc. (= datā fide): per fidem deceptus sum, through confidence, i. e. in my host who betrayed me, Plaut. Most. 2, 2, 69; Cic. Inv. 1, 39, 71; Caes. B. G. 1, 46, 3.—So, per se, per te, through himself, by himself, of himself, etc.: “homo per se cognitus, sine ullā commendatione majorum,” Cic. Brut. 25, 96: “per me tibi obstiti, = solus,” by myself, id. Cat. 1, 5, 11: “satis per te tibi consulis,” Hor. Ep. 1, 17, 1: “per se solus,” Liv. 1, 49.—With ipse: “nihil ipsos per se sine P. Sullā facere potuisse,” Cic. Sull. 24, 67: “ipsum per se, suā vi, sua naturā, sua sponte laudabile,” id. Fin. 2, 15, 50.—To form an adverb. expression, in, by, through, etc.: “non dubitavi id a te per litteras petere,” by letter, Cic. Fam. 2, 6, 2: “per summum dedecus vitam amittere,” in the most infamous manner, most infamously, id. Rosc. Am. 11, 30: “per iram facere aliquid,” in anger, id. Tusc. 4, 37, 79: “per commodum,” Liv. 30, 29, 3 (cf. II. A. supra): “per commodum rei publicae,” id. 10, 25, 17; 22, 57, 1; 31, 11, 2: “per ludum et jocum,” sporting and jesting, in sport and jest, Cic. Verr. 2, 1, 60, § 155; cf. id. ib. 2, 5, 70, § “181: per vim,” forcibly, Sall. J. 23, 1: “per dolum,” id. ib. 11, 8: “per otium,” at leisure, Liv. 4, 58, 12: “ceteris copiis per otium trajectis,” id. 21, 28, 4: “cibo per otium capto,” id. 21, 55, 1: “per tumultum = tumultuose,” id. 44, 45, 14. —


:?:

Which of these are equivalent to the passage in question from Eutropius? I haven't checked the contexts of all of these, but at first glance none of them seem to indicate the principal agent of an action. Could you be more specific?
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Re: Ablative of agent vs per + accusative

Postby adrianus » Fri Mar 26, 2010 2:42 am

I'm claiming that the way Eutropius uses "per Anci filios" is not necessarily different from classical “statuerunt injurias per vos ulcisci” = "[killed] through/by the sons" = "[insults] through/by you".

Postulo hoc: eodem modo potest dici "[mortuum est] per Anci filios" apud Eutropium et (exempli gratiâ) "[injurias] per vos" apud Ciceronem, per auctoritatem utrius (filiorum et vestram) significantes.
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